Cover letters are a means of introduction. They are meant to complement your resume and are required with each and every resume you send out. Together, a well-crafted resume and cover letter present you effectively to an employer. A cover letter makes it clear you want the job. It not only summarizes your qualifications and targets them toward an employer's needs, it also takes your resume, a rather formal document, and personalizes it.
Download our Writing for Work Handbook for more information regarding resume and cover letter writing.
- Use good quality paper specifically marketed for resumes and cover letters. Even better, use the same paper you used for the resume and buy the matching envelopes. It will complete the presentation and show attention to detail.
- Fonts should be clean and simple. Do not use script fonts. Font size should be between 10–14 points. Again, using the same font you used for your resume will make for a cohesive presentation.
- The cover letter must be error free. That includes grammatical errors, punctuation and spelling. Have at least two other people proof the cover letter. Suggestions for proofreaders include Career Planning personnel, professors, and administrative assistants.
- Do not use a form letter. Write each cover letter specifically for the organization/position to which you are applying.
Keep the letter to one page.
- The writing must be direct, powerful and to-the-point. Be positive and upbeat. Don't apologize for bad grades or lack of experience. Avoid abbreviations and acronyms — spell it out.
- Address the letter to a specific party. Do not use To Whom It May Concern, or Dear Human Resources Representative as your salutation. If unsure to whom the letter should be addressed, call and ask for the name and the correct spelling. Before you call, make sure the ad does not forbid phone calls.